Najuma Smith-Pollard helped University of Southern California kick off Black History Month with a prayer for the university-wide event, “Black Joy: Embracing Health and Vitality.” Watch the prayer or read the full text below.
A Prayer for Black History Month
Allow me to share in this dynamic program today as we kick off Black History Month, that some call African American Heritage Month. And so, let us go into a time of prayer and blessings as this month and this season have started. And I recognize that we do not all have the same faith tradition, so I invite you to pray in your own way and connect in the way that you connect spiritually.
Mother, father, God, our Creator, sustainer of life and the giver of life. We come to you this afternoon to first say thank you for this opportunity to gather together, even in this virtual way, to honor the heritage and the history, the legacy, the love and the family, the community of African Americans and our African culture, and so many who have come before us who have laid the groundwork and trail blazed creative pathways.
We come first to acknowledge gratitude and to say thank you for this day, because truly, this is the day that has been made by you, God our Creator, and we rejoice and are glad in it. We ask for covering. Just in the last two days, God, 17 historically Black universities and colleges have been under bomb threat. We thank you for no lives hurt, no one injured, but we recognize that we are living in a time of great threat, injury and harm. And so we come this morning to call out for protection. But as we sit under your divine protection, we also acknowledge the beauty of life and the joy of life, and the beauty of culture, and history, and legacy. And so we come to celebrate that in the most awesome and amazing way.
And so God, our Creator, our Sustainer of life and the giver of life, we thank you for all the ways in which our beauty comes forth and, as shown in this season, in this program, and that this kickoff would just be a reminder of the joy that lives inside of us regardless of history, regardless of what we all have been through or are going through, and that maybe we’ll go through in the days and weeks and months to come. But we acknowledge that life is still worth living, that there is so much light given to us.
And so that we celebrate today, we pray for covering for those who are dealing with sickness and illness, and we thank you for the ways in which we come through the most challenging times with the strength, with endurance, with pride, with joy, recognizing that we have been sustained, recognizing that we have been kept, recognizing that we are covered, and recognizing that there is still so much to celebrate.
And so we say thank you. We give glory, we give gratitude. We express our appreciation today. These things we ask, these things we pray, these things we believe by faith in the name of God, our Creator, our Sustainer of life, our giver of life. In the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. And for whatever your favorite issue may be, we invite you again, to pray in your way, as we all collectively say: Amen. Amen. And amen.
Rev. Najuma Smith is Assistant Director of Community and Public Engagement with the USC Center for Religion and Civic Culture.